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Do we need toner to restore skin pH? Do we need toner at all?

Hello, I've read many times that cleansing changes the pH level of the skin so the toner need to be used to restore it. Is that true? Even if you wash only by water... 


  • Not true at all. In general toners are unnecessary products. (Of course it depends on the specific ingredients.) 
  • Thanks! I thought the same )))
  • edited August 2016
    I'm not aware of any studies that have tested this, so it's probably unnecessary. However there are studies showing that there is a significant difference between cleansing with a high pH and low pH. So the question becomes, should we switch to an acidic cleanser? There's a great article by The Acid Queen where she addresses all of this.

  • Agreed about not using high pH cleansers. But the only high pH cleanser I'm aware of is true soap. Modern soap bars (syndet bars) and liquid soaps are neutral pH to begin with so there is no issue. 
  • Although you don't need a toner, I do like it because you don't want any residue of your cleanser staying behind on your skin. A cotton pad with a well formulated toner takes all the last bits make up and especially residue of cleanser of your skin. That's also why I don't understand micellar water, you don't want to apply surfactants to your skin, without washing them off. But considering the ph balancing thing, that's nonsense, that would indeed only apply if you use a soap or shaving cream (that has very high ph).
  • Good points Peter. 
  • Thanks for the comment, Peter, I have the similar view on the micellar water.

    But don't you think if someone does double-cleansing with good cleansers does she need a toner? As I understand most toners are formulated not for cleansing, but for additional moisturising. And you just can take away the residue of the make up with cotton pad and with just a water. So you don't need to pay for additional product. What is your thoughts?
  • Depending on how well your cleanser works, how well you cleanse, even with a double cleanse you can still remove some residue with toner. Or perhaps you miss an area you wouldn't otherwise notice until swiping away with a cotton pad saturated in toner. I may cleanse thoroughly but always see yellow/gray residue on my pads after removal.. whether it's a bit of makeup, dead skin cells, etc.

    A well-formulated toner can make a big difference in your routine. It comes down to ingredients. 
  • If the objective is getting rid of residue, then it seems to me that proper cleansing and rinsing would accomplish the same thing. I still don't see why you would need a toner. 
  • edited August 2016
    "That's also why I don't understand micellar water, you don't want to apply surfactants to your skin, without washing them off."

    But virtually every cream and lotion have surfactants in them and those are left on the skin.
  • True but to be fair creams and lotions are typically formulated with non-ionic surfactants that are more mild. The anionic surfactants used in cleansers tend to be more irritating. 
  • Youglowgal, I use cleansing oils and milk and remove them with wet flannel towels, that the same as to sweep away with the cotton pad and tonic. That is chemical and physical cleansing at once.
    Even when I use strong exfoliators after I don't see any makeup left on my skin. But of course, it depends of the quality of products.
  • RandyS, do all the micellar waters use anionic surfactants?
  • No, in fact, I don't think very many of them use anionic surfactants at all. Most of the ones I've seen are solvent based. For example, here are the ingredients for Simple's Micellar Water: 

    Water, Hexylene Glycol, Glycerin, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Panthenol, Niacinamide, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, DMDM Hydantoin, Cetrimonium Chloride, Tetrasodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, Iodopropynyl Utylcarbamate
  • So... what difference between them and creams? Concentrations?
  • Creams don't typically contain solvents like hexylene glycol. 
  • So, what is the principal difference between cream and micellar water? Why creams are ok to leave on the skin while micellar water no? (topic has changed )))


  • Depending on the ingredients, there may be nothing wrong with leaving a micellar water on your face. In that sense, it's like a cream. 
  • I was always under the impression that leaving ionic conditioning agents like the above centrimonium chloride can be irritating to skin.  Is it a matter of concentration?  Also, do these ionic conditioning agents bind to skin?  I'm unsure of the outer layer of skin's charge.
  • Not all these ingredients behave the same way. Some anionics are harsh when left on skin (e.g, SLS) some cationics (typically the short chain ones) are harsh when left on skin (e.g., cetrimonium chloride). 

    In general, non-ionic surfactants are less irritating. 

    And, yes, as with almost everything else, concentration matters. Even cetrimonium chloride is allowed to be used in leave on products at low levels (up to 0.1% or 0.2%, I believe.) 
  • Sorry, in the list is CETRIMONIUM BROMIDE ...
  • I don't think the counter ion makes much difference in terms of irritation. 
  • Oh... really...
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